Housetraining Your Dog Or Puppy

Now we will teach you how to completely house train your dog and stop it from urinating and defecating in your house right this second, once and for all. Keep in mind there is no half-way point in the house training. Either your dog is house trained or he is not. There’s no such thing as an almost housebroken dog. When a dog is housebroken he NEVER goes to the bathroom in the house.  dog training

The problem starts when new dog owners take their new dog outside and just leave it there for a few minutes thinking they will run on auto-pilot, and figure it out for themselves. Many people do not understand why their dog does not know what to do when taken outside. Just turning a dog out in the backyard by himself a few times a day is not the way to house train a dog. Just letting the dog roam around for a bit and maybe urinating on a bush or something does not send the right message to the dog. Remember he wants to make you happy, but you have to tell him in a clear way, what it is that you want him to do. Here is where we start to see how important proper communication is.

With the introduction of house training to your dog, as trainers (and that is you too–since you own a dog, that makes you a trainer!) we learn that we set our dogs up for one of two things in life, success or failure. As dog owners we must eliminate the possibility of our dogs making a mistake. If we don’t want a child to put a fork in the light socket, what do we have to do? Cover all sockets, lock up all the forks, AND NEVER TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF THE CHILD. So it goes with your dog. We must find a way of preventing your dog from ever soiling the house. We also have to teach the dog to communicate with you to let you know when he has to go outside.

Dogs thrive on regularity and they know exactly what they were doing the second something good happens in their life. When we teach a dog with consistent, positive reinforcement that they are pleasing us, they will strive to do that thing over and over again.  When we do this during house training, your dog learns that the only place to go to the bathroom is outside.

As luck would have it, dogs instinctively want to keep their immediate living areas clean, especially where they have to sleep. Since we determine what they use as a sleeping area we can use this desire to aid our mission of house training the dog. Since dogs are naturally den dwellers we introduce an artificial den in the form of a crate. When your dog is in the crate, he cannot leave unless you allow it. At first your pup will protest quit loudly and for long periods of time. We don’t recommend that at this point you use any corrections as your dog will not respond. If it gets too much try some ear plugs, turn on the radio, or maybe the television. Remember, he will yell his little puppy head off, not because he doesn’t like the crate, he would just rather be out with you.

If you have ever watched a nature special on wolves or coyotes you have probably seen that they will dig a den under ground and live there. They do this because it means safety for their pack. In it they know that no predator can jump on them in the middle of the night. Dogs are and always have been den and pack animals. If you have had a dog in the past you have probably found him either under a table or maybe in the closet when things got a little loud at your house or when he was really tired.

Some people have said to me that they don’t want to put their dog in a “cage”. If you are appalled by the idea of confining him to a cage, let me dispel any idea of cruelty. You are actually catering to a very natural desire on the part of the dog. In his wild state, where does a dog bed down for the night? Does he lie down in the middle of an open field where other animals can pounce on him? No! He finds a cave or trunk of a tree where he has a feeling of security – a sense of protection. The correct use of a crate merely satisfies the dog’s basic need to feel safe, protected, snug and secure.

It will take some pups a couple of weeks to get comfy in the crate. In the meantime, some will scream their furry little heads off. But think about this, The question you need to answer is “would I rather crate train my pup, or live in a house that my dog uses as a toilet?

Your pup will eventually realize that all the screaming in the world will not get them out of the crate. As long as you don’t take them out! Wait for them to be quiet for a minute or so before you take him out. Pups do get over the fact that screaming gets them no where – as long as you ignore it and DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT OF THE CRATE WHEN THEY ARE SCREAMING. I like to put a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter in there with them when they are really young.

Since small pups sleep up to 18 hours a day it shouldn’t be too hard to get them in a good crate / sleeping routine. Before you know it, going into the crate will mean naptime!

As I mentioned earlier in the beginning I might throw a Kong stuffed with peanut butter in the crate with the pup. Another idea is to toss a few treats in the crate and give a verbal crate command. Doing this will keep the crate process a positive one. You will be surprised at how fast he will learn to hustle right on in. Remember keep it positive!

As your training progresses your dog will go into the crate simply based on a verbal command. When this happens switch to giving the command first, wait for him to go in then give the treat as a reward.  At this point you will be able to use your crate for another reason. If you have a pup, or a juvenile dog and the idea of new people entering your house may make him very excited. Use your crate to contain your dog. Don’t wait till your guests arrive to put him in otherwise he may associate guests with getting stuck in the crate. Get him settled a minute or two before your guests arrive.

When picking out the proper size for you dogs crate it should be just big enough for him to stand up turn around and lay back down.  We don’t want him playing racquetball in there. If the crate is too big it will encourage him to use the back corner as a bathroom. If your dog is a large breed and you don’t feel like shelling out 80.00 dollars every time he out grows his crate every month then buy a size that will fit him as a full grown dog, and while he is still small put a box in there to block off the back of it. As the dog grows, adjust the box accordingly.

In order to make sure that your puppy only goes to the bathroom out doors you may put the crate in the bedroom of the person who will be either getting up in the middle of the night, or early mornings. If you even think your puppy may go to the bathroom on the way outdoors either put him on a leash, or maybe even pick him up in your arms. If you allow your pup to have an accident in the house, you will have to go back to square one in your house training. Bummer. I’m really not in favor of letting your dog sleep in the bedroom for too long because that tends to lead to dominance problems. I know I can sound like a wet blanket, but why take the chance of letting a problem develop when you don’t have to?

Your pup’s crate should never be used as place for punishment. As I mentioned earlier, a Kong in the crate goes a long way for peace in the house. You can try other toys as well. In fact, you should have a few “in the crate toys.” When the pup is out of the crate pick up the toys and put them away. This way the toys stay new and exciting to your pup. Make sure any toy you put in there doesn’t have a small little squeaker part in it. If your pup ingests that squeaker it can get stuck in your pup’s digestive tract and you will be lucky if all you get is a HUGE Vet bill. All too often this can be fatal.

When you first start the training put the pup or dog in the crate only for a minute or two with you right there in the room. As he sits in there quietly make sure you praise him and toss in a treat or two to let him know that he is making you happy. WHEN HE IS SILENT, PRAISE HIM AND LET HIM OUT. As he gets used to the idea of being in there for a few minutes, start leaving the room for a few seconds, working up to a few minutes. As you do this, your dog will get used to you entering and leaving the room. When you leave, just leave; don’t make a big production out of it. And when you return, just show up. No biggie.

Over a period of time you can gradually increase your absences to a few hours at a time. A good rule of thumb is only 1 hour in the crate for every month of age for your pup. The exception to this would be at night while the pup is sleeping or nap times.

Don’t be surprised to see your dog start to go into the crate on his own for naps and rest times. Soon he will feel that his crate is his castle. Make sure you NEVER let a small child enter the crate. You have worked hard over the months to teach your dog that that crate is his. Lets not create a problem where there is non.

At this point I would suggest feeding your dog in his crate. This is especially helpful if you have a multiple dog household. Doing this will make sure that each dog eats only his food. Lots of people will have two dogs each on their own dog food diet. You don’t want one dog eating the other dog’s food. That will develop resource guarding eventually leading to a dog fight.  By feeding in the crate you will also stop your dog from dawdling.

When you take your pup out at night to do his business let him roam about. Make sure you stay out there with him. Don’t distract your pup by making a lot of eye-contact. If you do this he will think that it’s playtime, not poop time. When he goes in the direction of a spot he thinks he may want to use as his toilet, give him gentle praise. Soon you will see him sniff around and eventually do his duties. Right after he is done, give lavish praise and tell him “GOOD HURRY UP” or whatever your outside word is. When he is done, take him right back inside. But still don’t let him out of your sight, not even for one second! At this point don’t do a lot of heavy playing. The point is to get him relaxed and ready for bed. Make sure you take up his water dish about 90 min before you are ready to retire for the evening.

When you wake up, take your pup out the very first thing. He has been holding it all night so he is ready. If you have to, put him on his leash so he can’t get lost on the way to the door. And if you are still in doubt if he can make it to the door, pick him up in your arms and carry him outside. After you are sure he is done, bring him indoors for supervised freedom. Have your kitchen baby gate ready while you make breakfast. While he is in the kitchen with you, break out the “kitchen toys.” Let him roam around your kitchen while you make breakfast and eat. After you are done with your breakfast, give him his. Immediately take him out after he has finished his morning meal. Keep this rule in mind. Dogs relieve themselves after they eat, sleep or after heavy exercise.

When he has finished his last bite of his evening meal take him outside at once. As soon as he has done his business outside immediately bring him right back inside as a reward for desired behavior. When you bring him in, put him in the kitchen again, with the baby gate up. While he is in the kitchen with you, as you are preparing your dinner you can break out the “dinner time toys.” At this point in his development, freedom of the kitchen is all he needs—unless you want to clean more poop. If you can squeeze one more walk before 8 pm that would be great. Then after the walk take him outside once again. Remember dogs go to the bathroom after they wake, eat, or exercise, so the walk really helps you both out.

The point of this whole exercise is to take your dog out as much as possible. Once an hour if you can. Whenever you are trying to teach your dog a new behavior you want to do it as much as you can. You won’t ruin him by allowing him to go to the bathroom outside over and over again. The bottom line is you cannot take your dog outside too much. Some people might tell you to make the dog wait for hours so he “learns to hold it.” Why would you want to do that if you can just go outside with him and keep reinforcing good behavior? If you take him out every hour then he learns that he is going to have a chance to go outside to do his business. So when someone tells you to wait for 4 hours – I would ask WHY if you can take him out more often? Why wait that long if you are home. We want to establish a pattern and what better way than to take the dog out all the time. Every time you take your dog out, ask him, “DO YOU WANT TO GET BUSY?” After a while he will know what you mean. And every time he does his business tell him, “GOOD GET BUSY,” or what ever you like to say. Do this for the rest of his life.

  • Key ingredients to successful house training:


  • 2. Take your dog out first thing in the morning.

  • 3. Bring him in as soon as he does his business.

  • 4. Dogs that go outside and don’t go to the bathroom, need more exercise. Take them for a brisk walk around the block, then outside again. Praise lavishly when he finally goes.

  • 5. Keep feeding times and diet consistent.

  • 6. Treats should only be given as a reward during obedience and crate training.

  • 7. Praise every time you see him pee or poop. Do this forever. Reinforcing good behavior never ruined a dog.

  • 8. Housetraining is exactly the same for pups and older dogs.

  • 9. Never rub you dog’s nose in anything.

  • Proper Correction
  • Unless you can catch the puppy in the act, don’t bother scolding or punishing. The puppy cannot make the mental bridge as to why you are upset after the fact. Remember, going to the bathroom in the house is not a problem for your dog or pup. But it is a problem for us. When you do catch him in the act, only use verbal scolding, never physical harm—NEVER. Besides, if he goes to the bathroom in the house after you read this article YOU REALLY MESSED UP!

Indoor puppy pads and wee-wee pads are a horrible idea for house training. Those items will encourage your dog to urinate and defecate in the house. For your dog, in his mind it’s either indoors or outdoors. It’s unfair to teach him to use a pad then get upset if he misses his mark, which he will do. Many people try to tell me that their dog gets too cold and will not do his duties outside. Hogwash. Stay outside with him long enough and EVENTUALLY he will go. I promise. If he stalls for too long, just put him right back in the crate, then try again in a few minutes. If your dog has short hair and you are concerned with him getting a chill, buy him a sweater if you have to. It’s cheaper than a carpet cleaner.  Besides eventually you will get sick of the poop and pee smell in your house. Then you will have to switch him to going to the bathroom outdoors and you will have start all over from scratch.

With all of this said there is always the occasional pup that will pee and poop in the crate. No matter how often you take him outside. This usually happens because the dog had poor living conditions before you got it. I live in San Jose  and we don’t have many, if any, pet stores that sell puppies like when I was a kid. In those pet store environments the pups live on mesh floors, so all of the excrement passes right through the holes in the floor, out of sight and mind of the pup. It may seem like your pup will never catch on, but he will. Your job is to be patient and consistent. All too often many pups never get a fair chance and their fate is sealed by the greedy puppy mill that has dollars on their mind rather than humane husbandry. I know it can be a hassle to practically stop your entire life with this little hard head but remember, owning a dog is a privilege. Eventually he will catch on.


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